TULIP PLANTING TIME!
● 4 great ways to plant ● How to maximise crop ● Understanding tulip fire ● Best companion plants
AS we head into November, you may be thinking that you’ve missing the boat for planting spring bulbs. Thankfully, that’s not the case. In fact, when it comes to tulips, November is the perfect month for planting. By holding off until now, you ensure the leaves do not emerge prematurely – making them more prone to attack by tulip fire. So late planting is a good disease-prevention strategy.
And while it’s usually recommended that most spring bulbs are planted by now, I’ve always found that daffodils, grape hyacinths and many others flower perfectly well in spring if planted in November. The stems may be a little shorter, but who cares?
Ultimately, though, this month is all about tulips, and thinking of the best ways to use them. Beautiful though they are, the flowers won’t really shine when planted singly – for optimum impact they need arranging in groups.
A clump of tulips as a feature or focal point works very well. Bulbs usually come in packs of 10 – ideal for impact in a sunny border or container. In larger gardens, double up. An evergreen shrub like a griselinia, or one with emerging leaves (such as a dark-leaved elder) makes an effective backdrop
Another approach is to mix together two (or even three) carefully chosen varieties, and plant in a large clump or a drift. Choose the colours you like best, and either match flower heights and times by selecting different varieties of the same type, or opt for different types with staggered flowering times.
Partnering tulips with other bulbs also works very well; again, either go for a one-time display or for succession. Small bulbs like muscari and Anemone
blanda can be planted in front, while hyacinths will add a delicious scent.
My preference is to grow tulips with biennials and perennials – ideally, a mix of the two. Wallflowers and tulips are a classic combination, but the heights need matching as many modern wallflower varieties are quite short.
And don’t worry if you’ve already planted your wallflowers and forgetme-nots – plus other partners such as violas, polyanthus and double daisies. If that’s the case, you can simply slip the tulip bulbs in among them.
Perennials make excellent planting partners for tulips, whether you opt for euphorbias in greenish yellow, heucheras in their vast variety of foliage colours, or the silvered foliage and dainty blue flowers of brunnera.
So no, it’s definitely not too late. And who knows, you may even pick up some end-of-season bargains.
Height and colour are key in tulip partnerships. The orange tones of ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Princess Irene’ work well with lime-green Euphorbia polychroma and the russet leaves of Acer palmatum